Sit down Chargers fans and let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time in a magical land named after a giant animal, an NFL franchise was born. Throughout the 1960’s and 70’s, the organization was a sad kingdom, finishing near the bottom of the pack year in and year out.
But then came the wonderful year of 1988 and with it, heroes were born, and the kingdom was happy once again. Under the likes of their leader Sir Jim Kelly, the warriors known as the Bills were victorious and continued to show their dominance, finishing near the top of all the league.
Once 1990 hit, the team was destined to rule the realm and become the best team in all the land. But they fell short of conquering the goal to the Giants of New York. Then the Tribe from Washington D.C. Then back to back years to the Cowboys of Dallas. In four chances for the Bills to finally claim their rightful throne as rulers of the NFL, they fell every time to the region known as the NFC East.
Following their 1999 debacle to the Tennessee Titans, things would be dark for the Bills Kingdom and their subjects known as Bills Mafia. They go through a period known as ‘quarterback hell,’ with the likes of Sir Drew Bledsoe, Sir. J.P. Losman, Duke Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Count E.J. Manuel.
For 20 years, the franchise was destined to remain near the bottom of all stats surrounding the NFL. Until one day, a hero arose from the ashes. A quick runner with excellent leadership skills and the ability to command his troops, Sir Tyrod Taylor entered the kingdom and broke the curse, sending the Bills back to the postseason.
And how did the organization thank him? Well by sending him off the Land of Cleve, where quarterback dreams go to die since 1999. But have no fear Bills, your new leader is ready to take control. Say hello to Sir Nathan Peterman.
Oh, his realm is over? Well, that was quick.
Instead, the Bills will now turn to their young prince, the heir to Sir Kelly as the team’s hopeful future leader of the land. While still young, just a boy in the face, his arm is strong while his other skills are weak. It’s time for Sir Joshua Allen to take the crown and lead his Bill nation back to the postseason and further.
What a great story. For anyone other than Bills fans.
The Los Angeles Chargers were blessed with a gift as their prepare for their long-awaited sequel against the Bills this Sunday in Orchard Park. The Bills announced earlier this week that the rookie quarterback from Wyoming would be taking over the offense.
That might be the best thing for the Bills as well. The last time these two teams met was Peterman’s first start. His stat line? 6 of 14 for 66 yards and five interceptions. In one half. It’s now known around the league that when a quarterback has a rough game that they are doing their ‘best Nathan Peterman impression.’
The Chargers secondary might not have their hands as full as last time, but there’s still plenty to be wary about from the gunslinger. Known for his powerful arm, prototypical frame and ability to examine the field, Allen does have the tools to be a dangerous quarterback in today’s league.
That being said, there still are significant flaws in Allen’s overall game. His accuracy is erratic, his arm knows one speed, decision-making skills are all over the place, and he’s never thrown more than for 56% completion wise in his career. That includes his days in high school out in Firebaugh, California.
There’s no telling what will happen when Allen takes his first steps as an NFL starter come Sunday afternoon. Being a first-round quarterback usually means people expect results right away. Looking back at several recent quarterbacks drafted early, their debuts have been mixed.
The New York Jets started fellow rookie Sam Darnold week one against the Detroit Lions. On the first snap of the game, Darnold impressed the fans (the Lions fans that is) by throwing a pick-six to cornerback Quandre Diggs. Darnold would have the last laugh as he would shine in his debut going 16 of 21 for 198 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving the Jets the win.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was much more lackluster as he would go 12 of 25 for 128 yards with a touchdown and interception. Houston Texans Deshaun Watson was named the starter last season in week 2, helping the Texans seal the win by combining his dual-threat ability to put up 192 yards and a solo score.
Philadelphia Eagles franchise signal-caller Carson Wentz was named the starter week 1 and looked great under center, going 22 of 37 for 278 yards a pair of touchdowns. Los Angeles Rams gunslinger Jared Goff was on the opposite side of the spectrum. Going 17 of 31 for 134 yards, this would become the start of what could only be considered a disastrous rookie campaign.
While all five quarterbacks look to have found some promise to be legitimate candidates as potential faces of the NFL once Tom Brady calls it a career, Allen posses one thing none of those quarterbacks have; arm strength. People are calling his throwing arm a cannon that has been surgically attached to his right shoulder.
The Chargers know a little something about players with great arms, they faced him last week.
In the season opener, Los Angeles defense went toe to toe Kansas City Chiefs future star known as Patrick Mahomes. Granted, while it wasn’t a perfect game, Mahomes was able to go 15 of 27 for 256 yards and find the end zone on four different occasions.
He also did most of his damage with the help of just one player; Tyreek Hill. The fastest man in the NFL known by the nickname “Cheetah” collected seven receptions for 169 yards and three total touchdowns.
Mahomes has been praised for becoming one of the next big faces in the NFL, much like Allen. While the Chargers secondary might have taken a beating last weekend, that shouldn’t be the same results this week against the Bills.
Allen came during the third quarter Allen came in to try and fix the mess that Peterman put the Bills under. Going 6 of 15 for 74 yards, Allen nearly tripled Peterman’s stat line. While several throws were still rocky, Allen was able to show some growth once entering the game.
But he was sacked three times for 16. The Bills offensive line allowed six total sacks for 28 yards. With a young rookie quarterback still looking to create an identity with the offense, the Chargers defense will need to step up and make him as uncomfortable as possible.
Looking back at the Chiefs game, the Chargers only were able to come up and force one sack. That came from safety Derwin James flying off the line of scrimmage and beating offensive tackle Eric Fisher. While the Chargers defense might not feature defensive Joey Bosa for the second straight week, players such as defensive end Melvin Ingram and outside linebackers Kyle Emmanuel and Kyzir White will need to win their battles off the edge.
Mahomes is excellent, but his arsenal is one of the league’s best. Tight end Travis Kelce is a nightmare matchup in solo coverage while Hill can take the top off even the best defensive backfields. Sammy Watkins is a quality possession receiver while both DeAnthony Thomas and Chris Conley can keep drives alive in short yardage situations. It also helps Mahomes that his running backs have averaged a career 10.5 yards per catch out of the backfield.
Allen isn’t so lucky. Kelvin Benjamin is an overrated red zone that still is looking to break out while tight end Charles Clay has yet to eclipse 600 receiving yards since joining the Bills in 2015. Zay Jones is a quality depth receiver starting on the outside while Jeremy Kearly has bounced around the league for years, with his best season coming in 2012 with the Jets. Running back LeSean McCoy can take some pressure off in the passing game but not as much as a quarterback needs. Last week, McCoy caught just one pass for -1 yards.
Bottom line; the Bills receiving unit won’t be doing any favors for Allen as most of them are either past their prime pass catchers or practice squad members.
At the end of the day, Allen will start. The Bills need him to start following another disastrous start from Peterman. Like most rookies, he’ll make several mistakes. Mistakes he can’t always control, it’s part of the ritual.
But before you blame Allen and call him a bust before being given a chance, remember: his offensive line will likely cause him to move outside the pocket while his receivers won’t be able to haul in his cannonball of passes. Allen was destined to fail before he even stepped out on the field.
The Chargers defense will need to capitalize on Allen’s misfortunes. The pass rush will be critical, coverage will need to be tight, and the offense will need to continue to improve. This shouldn’t be a hard win for Anthony Lynn and company to face heading into Sunday afternoon.
If the Chargers can expose the rookie for what he is, a rookie, this should be a recreation of the November beatdown less than a year ago. If Allen can succeed around his non-existent supporting cast, it’s going to be a long season for Chargers fans everywhere.